Forum

Romney’s victory over Obama is debatable

Editorials featured in the Forum section are solely the opinions of their individual authors.

In what some consider a shocking turn of events, the media at large seems to have declared former Massachusetts Governor and current Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney the winner of last Wednesday’s presidential debate.

The debate itself was the first of three between Romney and President Barack Obama in these last weeks leading up to the November election.

Obama, after his stunning performances in the 2008 debates and with his general charismatic demeanor, was predicted to win the debate. Yet Romney had already proven himself in battles of rhetoric, winning many of the debates in the Republican primaries earlier this year.

So how exactly did Romney win? After all, his body language suggested an odd mix of confusion and smugness every time the president spoke, and he continued to not reveal any part of the grand plan he’s been talking about this election cycle, other than the fact that he can assure us good things will be a part of it.

Much of the sentiment online was outrage at Romney’s apparent desire to “fire” Big Bird; that is, to cut the funding for PBS, which airs the beloved children’s education show Sesame Street. He claimed he had nothing against the giant yellow fowl, but already the meme has spread like wildfire and will no doubt continue to grow at least through November.

Romney also should have been weakened when Obama laid bare Romney’s idea for a Medicare voucher system before the audience. This alone should have scored Obama big points, but it wasn’t nearly as effective as it should have been because of his lack of aggression during the debate.

There are many reasons why Romney was declared the winner of this debate by the masses. It could be the case that the president had little time to prepare, being the leader of the free world and all. Romney threw out quite a few zingers and was therefore perceived to be sharper and more aggressive during the debate.

It could also be the case that moderator Jim Lehrer let Romney talk over him and wrestle control of the evening away. This point is debatable, though, as Lehrer was not forceful with either candidate, and the president appeared to talk over Lehrer quite often himself.

Finally, and perhaps most unlikely, there is a rather conspiratorially minded conjecture making its rounds online that Obama was playing a little “rope-a-dope” with Romney, lulling him into a false sense of security by letting him win this round, but planning on coming out swinging next time.

To me, this seems like a silly excuse. Why would Obama — by all accounts a usually confident, competitive guy — lose if he could help it? It seems more likely that he was caught off-guard this time rather than having some sort of Machiavellian game in store.

Regardless of the potential reasons the Democrats could give, the media has spoken.

Romney has won round one. But don’t count the president out just yet: He has a much better gauge on what he’s up against and he learns from his mistakes. He can be less abstract and more passionate when the situation calls for it, and it seems more likely now that he will go on a full offensive, pulling no punches while moving forward.

With round one behind us, the election seems closer than ever. It’s politics in action, and I, for one, could not be more excited. Let the best man win.